9 years ago I arrived in Cape Town to be part of the pre-opening team of the Westin Grand (then Arabella Sheraton Hotel). I was supposed to stay for 5 months and then go back to The Netherlands again. Well, we all know how that went… I’m still here in the most beautiful city of the world and I have no intentions of leaving anytime soon.
When I saw Back-of-house-dinner tour at the Westin advertised at www.supperlounge.com, I thought: Wow! It would be so special to spend a whole evening again in all those areas of the hotel that I ran around for 5 months training all the staff, getting them ready for the opening. Of course I signed up. From the industry events I’d attended at the hotel over the last year, I knew that the hotel had an excellent kitchen, perhaps even one of the best kitchens in Cape Town but somehow we never go for dinner or lunch in a hotel. Even more reason to look forward to a super special evening.
Parking was reserved for us and waiters were offering us a glass of bubbly upon arrival. I like! We were welcomed in the machine room where the hot water and electricity installations could be inspected. The maintenance manager explained a lot. We were told that by the end of the evening our knowledge would be tested and someone could win a dinner for 2 at the Executive Club. Oops!! I was too busy attacking the delicious Canapés and drinking bubbly so I missed half of his explanation. The whole evening we were surrounded by super attentive staff which looked after us perfectly and the MC (if I may call him that way) was Eben, the Director of Food & Beverages. He took us from machine room through to production kitchens, refuse areas (it must be the cleanest refuse areas I’ve ever seen), housekeeping department. We went everywhere. I was impressed with the recycling the hotel does and all leftover food goes to shelters, exactly the way it supposed to be.
Canapés served with Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel
Marinated Goats Cheese Croquettes, copper Penny Salad, Drunken Raisins, Whipped Noisette Dressing and Marula Nut Nougatine with Marog
Shrimp Bobotie Tomago Rolls, with pickled lime custard, Mooli Salad, Roasted Tomato Sambal and Lemon Garlic Foam
Mussel and Oyster Mushroon Miso Soup, with steamed spicy black bean brioche buns
The attention to detail throughout the whole evening was unbelievable. Eben told us how many bars of soap the hotel would use during one month and one of the guests asked if he could have a bar of soap. Just like a joke. By the time we arrived at Restaurant‘37’ to tuck into a delicious plate of Mezze, there was a bar of soap at each seat. Did you know the hotel looses about 1.200 napkins per month? And they cook around 5.5 tons of bacon per year!! During a normal evening there’s about 180 staff working in the hotel.
Mezze Platter served with Journeys End Chardonnay
Seared tuna, Artichoke Hearts, Drunken Pecorino, Beetroot Carpaccio, Red wine chips, Hummus, Smoked tomato, Glass potatoes (incredible!!), Pesto mousse, Balsamic mushrooms, Purple radicchio and Avocado pudding
We were all absolutely flabbergasted when we walked into the maintenance room and we found a complete dinner set up. It was beautifully done. We were having our main course here.
Mains served with Raka Quinary
Braised and Grilled Rib Eye of Bee, sumac and rosemary polenta, gremolata zucchini Sauté, porcini bavarois and whole grain mustard vinaigrette
After ‘sitting’ for our test we were now preparing ourselves to ascend to the 19th floor of the hotel. I once was the lucky girl to celebrate my birthday at the club lounge so again, good good memories. We were taken on a little tour of the spa before we sat down in the Executive Club Lounge overlooking the million little lights of Cape Town. It truly was a magnificent setting. Dessert is one of my favorite things in life. I don’t think one can have enough desserts. I was VERY happy to see that the Chefs of the Westin agreed with me. Wow! It was called a Trio of Dessert but it looked as if we had about 15 different little desserts on our plate.
Trio of Dessert served with Axe hill Cape Vintage Port
Wildebeeskataaings, Milk Tart filling with Cape Brandy and Chocolate Gravy, Boeremeisie Compote and Amarula Ice Cream
Banana Tarte Tain with Coconut Sorbet and lime Soufflé Tart
Delice Aux Chocolate Triple Chocolate Chip Biscuit, Warm Chocolate Pudding, Petit Champagne Truffles, Chocolate Bavarian Crème, Espressotini and Confit Brazilian Nuts
I don’t think I need to tell you more right? I think you might want to look out for the next Back-of-house tour at the Westin Grand and sign up as soon as you can. It’s a great way to learn about all the secrets of running a successful 5 star property that isn’t nervous about showing you not only the guest areas but ALL areas. I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for many years and I can assure you that not many hotels would be comfortable doing that. So off you go, there’s this splendid hotel at the Foreshore, go check it out as soon as you can!
@supperloungeSA: run by 2 passionate ladies who facilitate special dinners for passionate food lovers who enjoy a nice conversation as well, do check their web site www.supperlounge.com for the next dinner or perhaps you’d like to host one?
Click here if you like to see a photo impression of the evening